Teachers are sounding off about the removal of paid sick days that were in place last year for anyone who had to quarantine due to COVID-19.
News4Jax has learned from multiple school districts that the funding was from the federal government’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act and expired at the end of 2020.
Some Northeast Florida school districts, including Clay and St. Johns counties, were able to extend the funding locally through the end of this past school year. But it won’t be there this coming year. That means the only sick leave afforded to district staff is normal sick leave. This past year, they were given 14 extra days.
Now teachers are saying they won’t be paid if they need to quarantine beyond their allotted sick time.
“We were told today that they took away the 14/10 days of covid pay for all staff. We were told that we must use our personal leave if we are forced to quarantine,” wrote one district worker in a message to News4Jax.
The Clay County Education Association, which represents teachers in Clay County, is also speaking out.
“We’re asking our teachers and support personnel to go back in the classroom, be on the frontlines in the middle of a surge, and if you get sick and the department of health says quarantine, you just don’t get paid or you have to hope you have some sick days left after last year,” said Vicki Kidwell, president of the association. “We don’t feel that’s a fair ask of our instructors or our support personnel to get those schools open. And by the way, you might not get paid if you get sick.”
A Clay County District Schools spokesperson sent News4Jax the following statement:
“Clay County District Schools is analyzing all data, including financial resources, and will work with its partners within the Clay County Education Association and the Clay Educational Staff Professionals Association on this issue.”
News4Jax also talked with Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Green about this on Tuesday. She said they’re still working this issue out with the local teachers union, so it’s unclear how it will affect teachers in Duval County.